France: repression of the student movement intensifies

Police at demonstration in Caen

Student demonstrations and occupations are finding themselves the targets of violence organised or incited by the authorities.

Submitted by jef costello on November 30, 2007

In Grenoble today students of the IEPG (Institute of political studies) were setting up the blockade they had voted for. The director of the IEPG, Olivier Ihl, threatened to set dogs on them, although the dogs were reluctant. He then started to pull down the barriers and finally took a large piece of metal and struck a student at least twice with it, all the while screaming at students that he'd have them expelled. Shortly after this attack Police called by Ihl charged the students using truncheons and shields to force them back after he made a formal complaint of assault. Video footage here from about 8:40 in.

At the campus of Grenoble II university the President, Alain Spalanzani, lied about the result of the AG and sent an email declaring that the blockade had been lifted. By presenting those on the blockades as having defied an AG he deliberately placed them at great risk, furthermore by opening a side door he allowed many non-strikers to enter the building, again trying to provoke confrontation. The police and gendarmes were then sent in against the students, striking and gassing strikers and non-strikers alike. One policeman was heard to shout at a student "You won't shout so much with broken teeth" before hitting him in the face with a baton. One student was hospitalised after a severe asthma attack caused by gas, with several students suffering broken fingers and other injuries in the rush to get away from the indiscriminate police attacks.

In Caen yesterday 6 demonstrators were arrested and three hospitalised after police attacked a peaceful occupation of the education authority, once students and schoolchildren had been forced out using tear gas and baton blows they were then fired upon in the streets using 'flashballs' (a gun firing heavy rubber bullets) a 16 year-old-boy was struck in the face and is likely to lose his eye. Back at the campus police from the BAC (plainclothes Anti-criminality brigade) threatened to arrest a student but seeing other students coming out of the building decided to make a swift retreat.

As a result of these actions the AG at Nantes yesterday voted to call for the dissolution of the BACs widely seen as a more sinister although slightly more discriminating version of the CRS.

At Paris VII yesterday some 80 CRS forced the blockades, although few students and teachers entered, an AG was called to condemn the intruson of police on the campus. A student then stole the helmet of a CRS riot policeman, he was thrown to the floor and handcuffed but other students forced back the CRS and succeeded in destroying the handcuffs and freeing the prisoner.

Near the Censier campus in Paris an 86 year-old man was arrested after shooting at a student, who was fixing a banner to the university wall some five metres up, with an air rifle. Students at the campus claim that far-right slogans and symbols have been painted all over the campus and surrounding area in recent days.

In Lyon on Wednesday night the CRS were sent in to end the occupation after complaints were made that some 50 students stole 5 trollies worth of food from a local supermarket chain. Arrests were made, it is unclear how many.

And at Nanterre Campus yesterday a student involved with the blockades was attacked by a group of four right-wingers at around 10:30pm.

In more positive news Marne la Vallée, a university not known for militancy, began a blockade today after students voted for a blockade and strikes yesterday and over 150 lycées are now blockaded.